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HM Inspectorate of Prisons: Report on HMP Inverness: Unannounced Full Inspection, 5-9 November 2007




Prisoners take part in activities that educate, develop skills and personal qualities and prepare them for life outside prison.

7.1 Partly met. All prisoners have an entitlement to education including those on remand and those serving short-term sentences. Between a third and one half of prisoners are regularly attending education classes. However, too few prisoners are able to access work-related training and insufficient priority is given to this aspect of preparation for release. The library arrangements are excellent. Work is available for around 46 prisoners. However, the large workshop has been closed and no new work opportunities have replaced those lost from this workshop. There is significantly less useful work available since the last inspection.

Learning, Skills and Employability

Introduction and Context

7.2 The learning centre activities are managed locally by the learning centre manager in the prison and accredited by Motherwell College who have the contract for delivering education services. Provision is available for all prisoners. Those who engage with education undertake studies in at least one core skill area. There has been an increase in the number of prisoners gaining SQA certificates for their studies in the learning centre. Recent developments have included the introduction of short courses in vocational studies involving a very small number of prisoners in electrical hand-wiring and plumbing. There has been a significant reduction in other vocational training opportunities for prisoners since the last inspection in 2004.

Staffing and Resources

7.3 There are two full time members of staff - one of whom is a qualified teacher, and another is a dedicated full time prison officer. There is another qualified teacher employed for three days a week. A literacy support worker, employed by Highland Council works for one full day a week to support individual learners experiencing difficulty in literacy and those with additional support needs. An employability officer also works with prisoners one day a week and a vocational tutor in plumbing and electrical engineering one day a week. A prisoner regularly supports and mentors other prisoners who have difficulties with literacy.

7.4 The prison officer who teaches ICT was making a significant contribution to the quality of prisoner learning experience and the positive climate for learning.

7.5 The Regimes Manager co-ordinates work parties and vocational training. One prison officer manages the cleaning work party but he is frequently re-deployed to cover other duties resulting in lack of continuity in the vocational training that this work party provides.

Access to Learning, Skills and Employability

7.6 All prisoners in Inverness have an entitlement to education, including those on remand and those serving short-term sentences. This is an area of good practice. Classes have been arranged effectively to best meet the needs of the varying categories of prisoner including vulnerable, women, convicted and remand. Between a third and one half of the prison population are regularly attending education classes.

7.7 The Learning Centre offers education for up to 16 prisoners at any one time. Work opportunities are available for around 46 prisoners through work parties in the laundry, kitchen, cleaning and employment as passmen. A very small number of these prisoners were successfully undertaking industry standard level 1 training courses in cleaning and others ICT modules in food hygiene and health and safety. Too few prisoners are able to access work-related training and insufficient priority is given to this aspect of preparation for release. There are no vocational training opportunities available for female or vulnerable prisoners.

7.8 Most prisoners who engage in educational activity successfully complete SQA modules and course awards in computing, numeracy, communications, art and design, mathematics, and English at levels ranging from Access 2 to Higher. The total number of prisoners attaining SQA certificates had risen from 111 in 2005-06 to 213 in 2006-07. In addition, a small number of prisoners have been successful in attaining certificated awards in plumbing and electrical engineering accredited by Motherwell College. A few prisoners have also successfully undertaken units as part of the of the European Computer Driving License award.

7.9 Any differential between pay for work and education does not disadvantage those attending education.

Assessment of Need

7.10 Almost all prisoners benefit from the induction programme which highlights opportunities within LSE. All prisoners who engage with education undergo an assessment to identify their educational needs. This allows staff to have some information on the skill levels and abilities of these individuals. As a result, these prisoners have individual learning logs which help staff to plan for their development of learning and skills more effectively. A very effective system is in place for recording learner progress and engagement with education.

7.11 The criteria for allocating prisoners to vocational training activities are unclear and not linked sufficiently to prior qualifications and experience.

Delivery of Learning

7.12 Staff take good account of the learner's individual characteristics when planning learning experiences. Their input to learning activities is well-judged and focused appropriately on the learner's needs. Staff use a range of effective methods to engage learners in tasks and make progress more effective.

7.13 Prisoners attending the Learning Centre receive high levels of individual support and encouragement from the teaching staff. This is particularly evident in the computing, art, numeracy, and communication programmes.

7.14 There are insufficient opportunities for prisoners to gain vocational qualifications and skills for employment. These are only available for those prisoners involved in cleaning and food hygiene. There are no arrangements in place to provide certification for work-based activities such as laundry and catering although a few do so in cleaning. The garden has become inoperable since the previous year, resulting in a lost opportunity to develop training in horticulture.

7.15 Links to external agencies to help promote learning for prisoners once released are not fully developed.

Prisoners' Learning Experiences

7.16 Staff successfully attempt to create learning contexts which reflect prisoners' interests. Experiences are adapted according to individual need. All prisoners engaging with education were developing at least one core skill from communication, literacy, numeracy and ICT. Other courses include employability skills and creativity involving art and guitar for a few prisoners.

7.17 Overall there are insufficient work opportunities for the number of prisoners and in some cases, due to staffing difficulties, prisoners are not able to participate in the work activity programmes that had been previously offered.

7.18 The small number of prisoners who are actively engaged in training programmes value their learning experience and consider the programme to be beneficial to their future employment.

7.19 There is regular access for all prisoners to physical activity and exercise programmes although this is within a narrow range of activities. A few prisoners have achieved coaching awards in Gym Instruction at level 1 and Resistance Training as well as elementary coaching awards through Scottish Football Association courses.

7.20 All prisoners attending the Learning Centre valued their learning experience and were making good progress in a range of curriculum areas. There was a good level of display of prisoners' work in the classroom areas. Prisoners engaged in education were undertaking courses of study appropriate to their needs and they were appreciative of the programmes on offer and valued their learning experiences.


7.21 Prisoners achieve qualifications in a range of curricular areas but in a very small number and narrow range of vocational areas. While staff value and recognise prisoner achievement, the learning centre could do more to encourage other staff and prisoners to share in celebrating the success of all learners.

7.22 Staff take advantage of opportunities to enhance learners experience by inviting guest authors and artists into the prison for occasional inputs.

7.23 There are insufficient opportunities for prisoners to integrate ICT into their learning in curricular areas other than computing.

Ethos and Values

7.24 There are very good relationships between prisoners and staff. In almost all cases this contributes effectively to a positive learning climate. There is a flexible approach adopted by staff to meeting the learning needs of individual prisoners. However the lack of workshop vocational training programmes results in prisoners not effectively engaging in meaningful activities for a large part of their week.

7.25 Insufficient liaison between and across all learning, skills, training and employability services results in missed opportunities for a coordinated approach to prisoner development and employability.

Quality Assurance

7.26 Arrangements for systematically evaluating and improving the quality of the prisoner experience across learning, skills and employability have been developed. An annual LSE portfolio review has been undertaken for the first time, which was proving to be an effective tool in benchmarking and setting targets to improve the quality of learners' experience.


7.27 The programme for work and training is not well developed. The little that is available is only providing skills development opportunities for the small number prisoners involved in cleaning duties. The programme provides training opportunities that are relevant to the current labour market for only a very small number of prisoners. Prisoners have regular access to education. Any differential between pay for work and education does not disadvantage those attending education.

7.28 The education programme allows for some development of creativity and self expression. Prisoners are not normally transferred in the middle of their education courses but it had happened on occasions.

7.29 Education classes often have to be rearranged because of other programmes that are taking place in the prison. Learning centre staff are not always given appropriate notice. Physical exercise and activity is available for all prisoners regularly and is appropriate to their age and ability. Due to limitations of facilities this is only possible within a narrow range of activities.


7.30 A passman manages the library. He is very committed and energetic in ensuring that the library is well managed and well used.

7.31 There are good arrangements in place to allow effective access to the library for all prisoners, with the exception of the vulnerable group. Around a third of the prisoner population make use of the library.

7.32 The library provides a welcoming environment where prisoners are encouraged and supported to use computers for writing CVs and letters. The computers in the library have been refurbished. The passman and others provide peer support for literacy learners and refer significant numbers of prisoners for specialist literacy support and for help with additional support needs.

7.33 A former prisoner has written a very high quality management information system for monitoring and managing the stock and usage of the library. This is an area of good practice.

Other out of Cell Activities

7.34 All prisoners have regular access to physical activity and exercise on most days. Around 50% participate on any particular day. Overall 90% of prisoners are engaged in physical activity. However, a lack of space and limited facilities only allow for a narrow range of activities. There is no gymnasium.

7.35 Prisoners have good access to recreation. The prison has some links with local clubs for football matches.

7.36 Work opportunities are available for around 46 prisoners. These are designed to meet the prison's own needs: kitchen, laundry and cleaning. However, the large workshop has been closed and no new work opportunities have replaced those lost from this workshop. Inverness is like other prisons in the disappearance of such workplaces. There is significantly less work available in Inverness since the last inspection. It is recommended that more useful work opportunities are available to prisoners.